Category Archives: touring spot

The Vithoba temple

The Vithoba temple had its origins amid a jungle more than 150 years ago

Devotees know it as Jungle Vithoba temple. Named after a wild forest on the banks of the Musi, the temple’s gopuram soars into the sky with a tapering saffron flag fluttering in the wind. You can easily miss it on the road that runs parallel to Musi near Gowliguda but for the shikaram/gopuram.

In the evening, as the bhajan mandali troupes in almost every day, the clanging of cymbals and the soaring ‘Vitthala, Vitthala, Panduranga Vitthala’ echo through the streets as children emerge to play on the road.

Alas, the jungle after which the temple is named no longer exists. Now reduced to a traffic island, albeit a large one at that.

“All this was jungle and belonged to this temple. Even the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station was built on this temple’s land,” says a devotee waiting for the temple doors to open for evening prayers.

In front of the temple, with a road running by, is a small Hanuman temple, also a part of the temple complex. Parked yards away is the rath or chariot on which the presiding deity of the temple is taken around the area in procession for Brahmotsavam on Shudh Ekadasi.

To fulfil a wish

“This was a wild forest area where mendicants would stop to smoke hookah, cook, eat and go. One day, one of the soldiers of Nizam met one of those sadhus and spoke about how he was without children. The sadhu suggested that he build a temple for Pandharinath Vitthala to get his wish fulfilled. The soldier was reluctant. The sadhu told him not to believe him but to just make a sankalp (promise) about the temple for Vitthala and execute the promise only if his wish was fulfilled. Within two years, the soldier had a son and he donated the piece of land for building the temple,” says Raju Maharaj, the sixth generation temple priest, who carries out the rituals and leads prayers every day at the temple.

“In the middle of the small forested area, the temple came up more than 150 years ago. Some believe the temple was built by Singam Rajiah. It was nestled in a forested area as the Musi flows close by. Just over the last 15-20 years all these big buildings have come up,” says Surya Maharaj, hailing from a family of priests.

The family of priests traces its descent from Ramacharya who came from Paithan near Sant Eknath’s birthplace. Not surprisingly, the area has a fair sprinkling of Mahrashtrian families who speak Marathi at home and Telugu, Hindi and English outside. Nearby, is the Vivek Vardhani Girls School.

What sets apart the temple is the architectural style of the shikaram. It is a replica of the famed shikaram of Pandharpur right down to the detailing and style.

“There was a smaller temple here with thick walls and it could not accommodate enough devotees so we built a new temple keeping the inner sanctorum intact. We wanted to replicate the temple of Pandharpur exactly. But once the artisans from Tamil Nadu started working on it we realised that the temple will be dwarfed by the buildings around it. We changed the plan a little to ensure that the shikaram soars above the neighbouring buildings,” says Raju Maharaj.

Festive spirit

The area comes alive during the Brahmotsavam with the chariot being wheeled around the area to the sound of drums, pipes and cymbals. Steering the chariot with just wheels in the small bylanes of the area near Sultan Bazar is a skilled task which is done by a family of charioteers. “They use wooden sticks to turn the chariot which requires quite some skill,” says Surya Maharaj. But when the chariot wends its way through the narrow lanes, with devotees singing, clapping and chanting bhajans, it is easy to forget that the Jungle Vithoba temple is in the midst of a concrete jungle and not a forested one.

 

Courtesy    The Hindu

 

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Pillallamarri

The Banyan Tree is an integral part of Indian folklore and Pillalamarri is home to one of the biggest ones in South India spread over a whopping three acres and going back to 800 years.  The tree that resembles a dense wooded area rather than a lone giant tree has many a surprise in store. One can see religious shrines tucked away in its folds and branches.  Pillalamarri is often called by different names including Peerla marri   Pillala Marri  or Peerlamarri.

The giant tree which forms a massive wooded canopy can easily shelter around 1000 people.   Other added attractions here include a small aquarium and a museum. The Indian Postal Department has even released a stamp to commemorate the tree.  Do remember to carry food along as there are limited options on this route.

Do not miss

Jolly hills near Mahbubnagar which is an amusement park and an ideal pit stop and a newly relocated Shiva temple which was earlier submerged under the Srisailam reservoir project.

Distance from Hyderabad

90 kmts.

Courtesy      The Hindu

Tourist  Destinations in Telangana state

Bhadrachalam

bhadrachalam

The famous temple of Lord Rama is situated at the banks of Gadavari here. The 17th century temple has the Abhaya Anjaneya temple [ dedicated to Lord Hanuman ] and Parnasala nearby.  Parnasala is a village situated in Khammam district where according to legend. Lord Rama spent some time during his 14 years of exile.

Basar

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Known as the holy seat of Goddess Saraswati it has one of the only two temple of the goddess in the country. Devotees throng here to perform “ Akshara Abhyasam” for their children. About 100 meters north of the temple is cave known as Narahari Maluka. It is believed that Veda Vyas the author of Mahabharata  meditated here.

Jannaram

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Located at the end of dense forests of Adilabad. Jannaram is a small village surrounded by thick woodlands. It is an emerging eco-tourism hotspot near the Kawal Wildlife Sancturay.

Kadam Dam

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Built on Kadam River a tributary of Gadavari the dam also has a reservoir. It has a lake tourism hotel where visitors can enjoy the tranquility and natural beauty of the surroundings.

Dharmapuri

Dharmapuri

Located on the banks of Godavari in Karim nagar is the 10th century Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy  temple town. As per legend King Bali Varma had performed the Sharma Devta Yagna here following which the town was named Dharmapuri.

Kaleshwaram

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The confluence of Pranahita and Godavari. It houses the ancient temple of Mukteshwara swamy.

Vemulavada temple

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The Vemulawada Rajarajeswara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is situated 38 kmts from Karim nagar. Interestingly there is a Muslim mosque inside the temple complex where all devotees offer prayers irrespective of caste and creed.

Courtesy  DECCAN CHRONICLE –  Pictures Courtesy Google

week end visit to Kolanpaka

DSC00932Jain shrine at the village of Kolanupaka in Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh, India. The temple houses three idols: one each of Lord Rishabha, Lord Neminath, and Lord Mahaveer. The image of Lord Rishabha, carved of a green stone has been historically famous as “Manikyaswami”. The temple is about 80 km from Hyderabad on the Hyderabad-Warangal Highway NH 163. Lord Rishabha, popularly called Adinath Bhagvan, was the first Tirthankar in the Jain. There are eight idols of the other Tirthankars on both the sides of the main temple. The statue of Lord Mahaveer is 130 centimetres (51 in) tall and is said to be made of a single piece of jade. Idols of Lord Simandar Swami and Mata Padmavati are installed on either side of the main temple..

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Kulpakji is an important pilgrimage center for Svetambara Jains of South India. Also, the Someshwara Temple is very famous, which was established by Chalukya’s about 800 years back. Kolanu means a Lake and Paka means a Hut. There used to be lots of lakes and huts and this caused to get this name The temple was recently renovated by employing more than 150 artisans from Rajasthan and Gujarat supervised by Sompuras. The old garbhagrah was preserved and a complete new temple was created surrounding the existing towerDSC01113

The Jain temple here is made out of red sand stone and white marble pillars. The intricate carvings on the temple walls and ceilings are worth praising. And the rich look inside is also well maintained. This is a new construction over an old temple which is said to be having a history of 2000 years. Jineshwar Idol is also known by Manikyaswamy as the idol is said to be carved using the jewel of a ring worn by King Bharatheswar.DSC00986

According to mythology, the Jineshwar idol present over here was originally at Ayodhya and then later on taken to Vethadai mountain and there after its praise reaching the heavens; lord Indra, who is the king of Gods has carried the idol to the heavens. Later the idol was brought to earth by Sri Ravana by pleasing the king of Gods.DSC01039

Sri Rani Mandodari consort of Sri Ravana, is a Jain by religion and comes to know about this Jinneshwar and takes a wish to start praying this idol. Ravana fulfills her wish by performing a great penance and pleases Indra to obtain it and thus brings back to earth. Ultimately because of the actions of Ravana abducting Sita Devi, consort of Sri Rama. Gods convey the message to Mandodri to pass away the idol in the deep seas. After lots of years, a king from the Karnataka region named Shankar takes the responsibility to bring up this idol as an advice from the spiritual guides to protect his country people from an epidemic. Thus with help of a sacred process he brings out the idol from the seas and on his way back he halts at this place called Kolanpak and there he gets a resistance to move the idol further, considering it as god’s decision the king decides to build a magnificent temple around it. religion. It is believed that the original idol of Lord Adinath, known locally as Manikya Deva, has made Kolanupaka its abode.DSC00947

We visited this Jain temple and Someswar temples on March 1st  2014. We started by 7 A.M   and had a great time there. While returning home we visited Bhongir Fort also  and came home by 3 P.M  Very enjoyable and unforgettable week end trip.

COURTESY       GOOGLE

High in the khasi hills

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High in the Khasi hills Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya is en-circled in a blanket of drizzle most of the time. Till recently it was the wettest place on earth. Now the title has passed on to the neighbouring town Mawsynram which recorded the highest rainfall in the world recently. Originally known as sohra the land of oranges Cherrapunjee has a regular stream of visitors through the year.download

The drive to Cherrapunjee approximately 56 km from Shillong is scenic dotted with meadows and waterfalls. The Mawkdow Dympep valley takes your breath away. Riat Mawiew the grand canyon is a popular spot with tourists. At Thangkharang park on a clear day one can see the Bangladesh plains.images

There is a lot to explore in Cherrapunjee. For accommodation there are snug cottages and the eateries that provide delectable food. The bazaar is a n interesting  places to browse around. This place was once the favourite of the British and the monuments that dot the place are a testimony to the fact

The highlights of the region are the waterfalls Kynrem, Noh-Kalikai, Dain-Thlen and Noh-Sngithiang falls are the popular ones. From afar these majestic falls appear as sheets of vapour rolling off the lush green mountains. The original name for this town was Sohra which has pronounced “CHURRA” by the British. “CHERRAPUNJEE” means ‘ land of oranges’.download (1)

When in Cherrapunjee visit the spectacular falls the caves and the canyon. But above all remember to cross the living root bridge.

Tales and legends

“ The waterfalls here are some of the highest in the country. Each of the falls has a local legent attached to it. So do the Mawsmal limestone caves and Khoh Ramhah or the pillar rock” says one of the residents. A spectacular man-made structure to be seen in Cherrapunjee is the living root bridge. Thousands of stairs and long trek later one comes to a double-decker root bridge. In these remote areas these bridges serve as the only means to cross gushing streams.images (1)

Though the day trip is tiring it makes for good memories and lovely photographs. The sun sets really early in these areas so equip yourself with many storybooks for the remainder of your evening when you return from the picnic.

Down the ages

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There are generally two types of kids. Those who think museums are serious boring places. And the other who feel museums are fun exciting places where you can learn lots of things. A visit to Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad will convert all to lovers of museums. Simply because among the exhibits in this museum there is a section especially marked for children.

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The Salar Jung Museum is the world’s largest one man art collection. The Indian Parliament has declared the museum an Institution of National Importance. The museum currently has thirty eight galleries divided into three blocks  Indian Block Western Block and Eastern Block and approximately 13654  objects are on display. They belong to periods ranging from second century B.C  to the early 20th century A Ddownload (2)

Mir Yousuf Ali Khan widely known as Salar Jung III was responsible for acquiring most of this collection. Hence the museum is named after him. The children’s section is fascinating. On the ground floor is the Flora and Fauna Gallery. On display are hundreds of real looking animals and birds made of marble porcelain and metal. They are from Japan  China and European countries. There is a large Toys and Dolls Gallery where you will find hundreds of beautiful dolls and toys in all sizes shapes and colours and from various cultures around the world.images

A big attraction is the Toy Army. It contains nearly 8000 small and colourful toys in wood and metal representing European armies. Nearby is a collection of wooden marble and porcelain toys and also a lovely Doll House.download (3)

The Musical Clock is another favourite. Salar Jung bought this large ornate clock from Cook and Kelvey of England. At every hour a timekeeper emerges from the upper deck of the clock and strikes a gong. There are many more amazing clocks including Grandfather clocks, Bird Cage clocks, Bracket clocks. Skeleton clocks and more.images (2)

The Deputy Keeper Salar Jung Museum Ch.Srinivas  Rao explains that there are various events for children round the year. Also during children’s week ie November 14 to 20 all children can enter free of cost.images (3)

Across its galleries Salar Jung museum contains stunningly beautiful works of art sourced from around the world including India. Since each item is captioned mentioning date and origin you can learn a lot about art.images (1)

 

Courtesy   ARUNA CHANDRARAJU   THE HINDU    YOUNG WORLD

Madagascar

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Madagascar the world’s  oldest island broke off from Africa and India and has been on its own for more than 70 million years in splendid isolation it has evolved its very own wildlife more than 80% of it found nowhere else. New species are still being discovered every year. The fourth largest island in the world it si full of strange places and bizarre animals. Including the charismatic ring tailed lemurs and the enigmatic Sifaka. The land is also home to more chameleons than anywhere else and the biggest bugs and weirdest spiders in the world.images

It’s one of the few places left on Earth where there are still wildlife mysteries. It has an amazing collection of wildlife many of which have little been known like cyanide eating lemurs cannibalistic frogs meat eating plants cryptic leaf tailed geckos tadpole eating wasps tunnel digging chameleons and house proud flycatchers.images (2)

Lying just off the coast of Africa Madagascar is a land of misty mountains tropical rainforests and weird spiny desert scrub each with its own peculiar set of animals and plants. An island of extremes where the east is cloaked in soaking rainforest the west and south is almost a desert. The south of Madagascar is home to its most extraordinary landscapes  from forests of upside down trees to alien spiny deserts. In stark contrast to the east this is a place that’s bone dry to most of the year but it’s extraordinarily rich in wildlifedownload (3)

. Here only the toughest and most opportunistic survive and some of the strategies for survival are ingenious. The island has some of the highest mountains where trees ae few and it’s cold enough for frost. It’s also got lush cloaking rainforests down to the tropical coast which is home to rare varieties of ring tailed lemurs the jeweled geckos and the predatory wasps.download (1)

Much of Madagascar’s extraordinary wildlife is under threat from hunting and loss of habitat and none more so than in the south of the island.images (1)

The Marojejy Massif in the last sanctuary of one of Madagascar’s rarest lemurs the elusive ghostly white silky sifaka. It is estimated that only 200 of these  endearing creatures are left on Earth. In the lush rainforests of Ranomafana hides one of Madagascar’s most remarkable animals the golden bamboo lemur only discovered a few years ago. It is incredibly specialized eating just one species of bamboo a plant loaded with highly toxic cyanide. Every day they consume twelve times the lethal dose of this poison with no ill effects no one knows how they can do this.download (1)

Living in the iconic baobab forests on the west of the island are huge eyed mouse lemurs the world’s smallest primates emerging at night to feed on the sugary droppings of bizarre fluffy bugs. Labord’s chameleon is the shortest lived land vertebrate in the world. This striking animal lives just twelve weeks from hatching to adulthood.